The following post came to be written as a result of an exchange between Azhar and myself. Azhar is an educator and follow blogger. We are both participating in Blogging 101 U. offer by WordPress. To recognize in myself something that I have possessed for all of my adult life.
All people are born with natural curiosity. Now that is not to say that some people are not born with disabilities, in fact, I would say that we all have limitations- handicaps. When infants and toddlers starts to hit milestones we say, “my little one learned to hold his head up today” or “Jason is learning to crawl” or “Tabby is finally stringing some words together and learning to talk in sentences.” We may say, “it is happening” which it is but we see the struggle to achieve and recognize these things as learning. From our earliest day we want to look and touch and feel and hear – to discover.
Newborns know that mother’s voice and will turn their heads in the direction of mom when she speaks. Everything is new and those of us who have either had children or work with them know that the discoveries made in childhood are a delight to most children. A young child, proudly proclaims, “I know how to write my name. Want to see?” We fetch paper and writing utensil. Of course I want to SEE and most adults want to encourage little ones when they are learning these things. There are so many examples we could give long before a child is school age and no one denies that these young ones are learning.
Perhaps you have heard the saying, “The first two years we do our best to teach our kids how to walk and talk and the next sixteen we are telling them to sit down and shut up.” I know that is not very nice and in so many ways, parents unknowingly squash the curiosity out of their own dear ones. And fortunately for the rest of the world, a number of those kids bounce back and become tenacious learners. Let’s just look at the first part of the saying, “The first two years we do our best to teach our kids.” It is not a new thought, parents are our first teachers.” And for as many years that I have been a parent, that is how long I have hesitated to call myself a teacher. And the question that I need to answer in this post is “why?”
There is a general belief about what teachers do and that does not line up with my philosophy of education. And that derogatory saying, “Those who can, do, those who cannot, teach.” First the general belief about teachers specifically, K-12. The belief that teachers spoon feed content to their students and then test them to see if they can regurgitate what was given. That is called parroting and I don’t think that can pass for education. Then here in the commonwealth, some teachers feel compelled to teach to the high stakes test. The discouragement and negativity of the statement “Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach.” is not something that I want to be associated. Can you blame me?
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” a quote attributed to Plutarch. This pretty much sums up my philosophy of education. Like I said at the beginning of the post, I believe all human beings are naturally curious. So, in order to cultivate a love of learning, the first thing to do is honor that curiosity and continue to honor it throughout a person’s lifetime. Perhaps I can talk more about that in a future post. Secondly, I believe that as an educator, I am to equip students with the tools for learning. Thirdly, I need to provide guidance, direction, and resources throughout the learning process. Even that being said, I am a reluctant educator.
Obviously, I believe education is important and becoming a lifelong learner is achievable if one stays teachable.
Looking back, I would say that I did not really become teachable until I was 21. My own education has been empirical in nature and not the traditional route. Today, I have decided to honor the way my own education has come about thus far and I am strongly considering giving up the title of Reluctant Educator. I do prefer to be referred to as an instructor or educator and I don’t ever envision calling myself a teacher.